Wow, this has been a gap of nearly 3 weeks since I posted - long time since I've taken such a break.
There really isn't much to write about with my in-game activities, unfortunately, and while I'd like to wax philosophical on some other topics of the game, the muse fails to stir. Still, here I am today, after a few... extremely frustrating weeks of game. Not much raiding to talk about, a lot of mumbling on my part, and playing of alts and doing really repetitive boring stuff just to have a reason to log in. I've been seriously tempted just to uninstall WoW and wait till patch 5.0 to install it again, so I don't even get tempted into logging in just to sit in Dalaran staring at Trade with a mixture of horror and fascination.
But, log in I did, and do, and last night I dusted off my sweet, lovely Warlock lady for a bit of LFG action. First, as a good little diligent player, I sat on the Dummy for a bit just to remember my rotation, I spread some DoTs around and so forth, and when the dungeon started, I saw I was in the company of some full DS geared people (my poor Warlock is mostly in normal-FL gear). Afraid of a poor showing, I sat up straight and prepared to do my best.
Throughout the dungeon, I found myself competing pretty aggressively. I was Soul-Swapping full piles of DoTs like my life depended on it, I was keeping every bursty button on cool-down, every time I could boost my numbers, I did, and when a pile of mobs gathered, I gleefully breathed Shadowflame, spammed seeds of Corruption. I won't deny the cackled that left me as the screen exploded with huge, bright yellow numbers everywhere.
At the end of the dungeon, we were all within 1% of each other in overall DPS and damage done, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself. It made me wonder about how much fun I have playing my DPS specs lately, as I don't tank very much anymore even on Innana and Retribution has become my most progressed set, so I've developed a very DPSey mindset. And of course, in a given raid, ranged DPS almost always seems to outperform Melee, or should be, and playing Affliction would give me a great deal of utility in terms of what I can offer the table.
While raiding in Cataclysm offers me absolutely no inspiration anymore, I do kind-of want to raid on my Warlock, if I could find a late Friday night group for some cross-server action or something. It would let me make up my mind about how much I really enjoy flinging spells all over the place. I have to say, having tried Affliction on Beta, it feels a bit more frantic. Malefic Grip seriously messes with DoT refresh timers and Haunt replacing Shadow Bolt from Nightfall procs constantly breaking the normal flow of the rotation while constantly being aware of Drain-twisting for when a bursty part is about to come up or during Execute phase, all makes for some pretty tense casting. There are a lot of things to track and Affliction was never the most straightforward of specs. But I think it's a very rewarding spec to play, there is almost no other spec in the game that feels as in touch with its in-character description as Affliction.
You are laying curses and afflictions and banes on your enemies and devouring them from the inside out. There is no question of what an Affliction Warlock does. Merricat is a twisted, dark woman with a warped mind and I sometimes feels that she thinks she doesn't control her actions anymore, that she has stepped too far into the Nether and when she came back, she wasn't completely herself anymore.
Through all this, Affliction remains the least flashy of the 3 specs. Demonology has some incredibly cool moves, and Destruction has always been about the fire and brimstone, but Affliction is the quiet art of killing by looking at you and suddenly that belly-ache turns into blood pouring out of your ears. So I guess I'm okay with it.
By contrast, Retribution has become almost elegantly simple. We build Holy Power from absolutely everything. Judgment? HP. Crusader Strike? HP. Exorcism?! HP. Have too much HP? Have some extra storage. Inquisition is all buffed? Just spam those endless streaks of Templar's Verdicts. But at the same time, because we're hitting Verdict so much more, it had to scale down in terms of the damage it does, and that is a serious bummer. It doesn't feel like we're building up this massive blow, it feel more like a lot of medium-sized blows whittling down the enemy rather than bringing an overwhelming righteous force down.
So, how do you choose? I'm hoping we have a "Well, what the hell class and spec ARE we playing next expansion?" conversation soon, and we'll go from there. But, knowing what our armor-class breakout is like (3 each of plate, cloth and leather) I suspect I'll be back to tanking and my brief affair with my Warlock will be a memory, we'll glance at each other occasionally in Stormwind, steal brief smoldering looks, wonder what-ifs, exchange unfortunate smiles, shrug at each other, hoping that the time between patches brings us together again, and then we'll both return to our jobs.